The combination of Horror and Westerns does take a little getting used to. The Foreword to this volume, written by Joe Lansdale, explains the appeal of both genres and how they might work when mixed together. Deadlands explores these themes, mixing elements from TV shows, movies and comic books in a bizarre, but workable, adventure. The fiction in this volume explores the living and the dead, good and evil, drama and humor.
There is a nice two-page introduction to Deadlands just before the stories begin. It offers up information on the arrival of the Manitous and the points at which the supernatural invaded the West. This primer is invaluable for those unfamiliar with the backstory of the Deadlands and makes reading the stories much easier.
The short stories that make up this volume are fitting to the world of Deadlands, and range in quality from very entertaining to pointless. Obviously part two of a three-part series of anthologies, some of the tales in this volume are continuing stories, which then go on to finish up in the next volume. Some introduce interesting characters, ones that might make great antagonists for a group of Deadlands PCs. Exploring different regions of the Deadlands, these tales offer a variety of mysteries and pit the protagonists against foes both supernatural and mundane.
Lucien Soulban’s “No Man’s Law” offers a tale of young Eli Woodrow, a stagecoach robber who is way out of his league. Eli gets himself caught in the middle of a mysterious plot and a nasty doublecross. The best parts of this tale have nothing to do with the supernatural and everything to do with human greed and sin.
Zach Bush offers up a ghost tale of sorrow and vengeance called “Nuna Daul Tsuny” about atrocities done to a Cherokee girl who now haunts the plains seeking her lost innocence. Tragic and eerie, this story proves that not all horror in the Deadlands is about gore and monsters.
[3 of 5 Stars!]